2021 Mazda CX-5 Daily Gazette Review

 

 

Lyons on Wheels

2021 Mazda CX-5

MSRP: $25,270 (base, FWD)                 As Tested: $39,126 (Signature, AWD)

Sponsored by Ensign Autobody

 

The compact crossover class is second only to full size pickups in overall vehicle sales in the U.S.  The combination of versatility and economy appeals to a broad spectrum of buyers.  Mazda’s entry in the segment is the CX-5, which was introduced in 2013.  Seven trim levels are offered: Sport, Touring, Carbon Edition, Carbon Edition Touring, Grand Touring, Grand Touring Reserve and Signature.  Starting prices range from $25,270-$35,285.  All Wheel Drive is standard on the top two trims; and all other levels can add AWD for $ 1,400.

 

This is the fifth year of CX-5’s second generation.  Highlights for 2021 include the latest version of Mazda’s infotainment system, with a larger center screen.  The 10.25″ panoramic shaped display replaces the former 7″ screen on all trim levels.  The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.  A smartphone app allows access to remote monitoring and control of select, vehicle functions, and a Wi-Fi hotspot is available.  Also notable and new for ’21 is the Carbon Edition trim level.  Wearing a coat of model-specific, Polymetal Gray paint, these vehicles sport 17″ black metallic aluminum rims, and gloss black rear view mirrors.  Inside, the package includes red leather seats, black honeycomb trim on dash and door panels, and red stitching on the leather wrapped wheel and shift knob.

More about motors: Sport through Carbon models get Mazda’s 2.5L four cylinder under the hood (187 horsepower/186 lb.-ft. of torque).  The Carbon Edition Turbo (MSRP $32,060, w/AWD) gets (surprise!) a turbocharged version of the 2.5L.  It’s rated at 227 h.p./310 lb.-ft. of torque with regular gas (87 octane) or 250 h.p./320 lb.-ft. of torque with premium (93 octane).  The turbo mill is standard on the Grand Touring Reserve and Signature level cars.  A six-speed automatic transmission is matched to both versions of the 2.5.  As fitted in my Signature level test car, the 2.5L turbo is a lively performer (low-to mid 6 second speed from 0-60); one of the most responsive engines in the segment.  Handling and ride quality are very good. CX-5’s EPA fuel economy estimates (22/27/24 turbo, AWD) lag the leaders amongst compact crossovers, and I logged 18 mpg’s in my week behind the wheel.

Particularly in top level, Signature trim, the interior is nicely executed, with a quality look and feel.  The bigger screen for the infotainment system is appreciated, and all switchgear is within easy reach of the driver.  The CX-5 has the ¾-rear blind spots that you expect in a crossover, so blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are necessary – and happily  standard on all trim levels.  Six footers can squeeze behind like size front passengers, as long as the latter don’t get too laid back with their seat rake.  Second row seats fold mostly flat forward, and liftover height in back is comfortably low.  Cargo capacity is a useful, 30.9-59.6 cu.-ft., though segment veterans like RAV4, CR-V and Rogue offer more space.

 

Particularly in turbo-equipped models, CX-5 works best for compact crossover buyers who are interested in accenting the “Sport”, in their Sport Utility Vehicle.

A 40 year resident of the Capital District, Dan Lyons is the author of six automotive books, and photographer of more than 200 calendars.